Back in October, when Greece was rewarded with further bond haircuts for progressively missing its economic targets, even after having gotten caught on at least one occasion making its economy appear worse than it was, we said that it is only a matter of time before "Portugal, Ireland, Spain and Italy will promptly commence sabotaging their economies (just like Greece) simply to get the same debt Blue Light special as Greece." In the aftermath of this statement, we got the Irish and the Portuguese proceeding to slowly but surely do just that. Today, it was Spain's turn to make it 3 out of 4 after as Reuters noted so appropriately, "Spain defies Brussels on deficit target" clarifying that "Spain set itself a softer budget target for 2012 on Friday than originally agreed under the euro zone's austerity drive, putting a question mark over the credibility of the European Union's new fiscal pact. Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy insisted he was acting within EU guidelines because the plan was still to hit the European Union public deficit goal of 3 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) in 2013." That Italy is sure to follow is absolutely guaranteed, however just because the ECB is now indirectly monetizing BTPs the true impact will be delayed far more, and instead of taking prompt steps to remedy the situation, the European complacency will be accentuated by the fact that bond yields are very low, and supposedly indicates the true state of the economy. No. All it indicates is the conversion of future inflation (courtesy of €1 trillion in new money in the past 3 months) for a very temporary respite before all hell ultimately breaks loose as countries pretend everything is ok as bond yields are pushed artificially low. And in doing nothing, the fundamentals in the economy only get worse and worse. Germany knows this very well, and the Economist explains the reaction to Spain's surprising statement today perfectly...
A novice in European summits, Mr Rajoy has been playing a strange game. He was careful not to discuss specific figures with fellow leaders. But as soon as he emerged from the summit he declared that Spain’s deficit this year would be 5.8%, rather than the agreed target ratio of 4.4%. He insisted, though, that Spain would still fall below the 3% deficit limit in 2013, as planned.
Germany, moreover, seems to be in an intolerant mood. There is irritation that the Spanish government is delaying its budget pending regional elections in Andalusia that Mr Rajoy's party hopes to win, and suspicion that it is inflating last year's deficit figures to blame its Socialist predecessor. The commission says it wants to double-check the numbers. But a senior source in Berlin puts it more bluntly: “Everybody knows the Spanish are lying about the figures.”
Funny. And yet the people are supposed to believe in the mumbo jumbo that is Europe's fiscal pact, or frankly anything else? Perhaps the senior source in Berlin should have just stepped up and told the outright truth: "Everybody knows that everyone in Europe is lying about everything."
And therein lies the rub. Because with nobody having any real clue what state the real global economy is in, and everyone knows it is far worse than represented yet central banks throwing gobs of liquidity in an attempt to mask a problem that stems precisely by the kind of inaction that this kind of intervention perpetuates, we can guarantee that the next time around we have adverse statements about the various European economies, it will not be a lie, but an understatement.
And just then, when the reality catches up with myth once again and sovereign risks explode one more time, we get all central banks activate the same rinse-repeat spin cycle of excess liquidity that does nothing to fix the underlying insovlency problems, whose short-term liquidity fixes are getting progressively shorter and shorter. Alas this cycle of self-delusion and reality will continue, with ever wider swings in amplitude until the N+1 injection is so big that the floodgates finally open and wheelbarrows are the most desired object on earth.